Look and Live
The main message Nephi was trying to portray to the people in this chapter is "look and live." Exactly halfway through the chapter, Nephi talks about the brazen serpent that was raised in the wilderness while the Israelites were wandering. The Israelites were bitten by some sort of serpent. Moses instructed them that they could be healed if they but look at the brazen serpent. That serpent is symbolic of Christ. Just as the Israelites looked on the serpent, they lived. If we look upon Christ, we too will live forever.
To take this symbolism one step further – a prophet (Moses) was the one that told the people how to be healed. In this chapter, Nephi is trying to persuade them that he too is a prophet and that he is trying to help them repent. Nephi lists the numerous other prophets who have tried to help the people gain eternal life through repentance.
Evidence of Destruction of Jerusalem
I think verse 21 is a crucial verse. Laman, Lemuel and all those who doubted Lehi's prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem were proven to have doubted unwisely. One giant piece of evidence comes from one of the sons of King Zedekiah whose name was Mulek. All of Mulek's brothers were killed by the invading King of Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar (see 2 Kings 25). Mulek survived, escaped Jerusalem and was guided to the Americas where later his people were discovered by Mosiah I (Omni 1:15). Here the Nephites had evidence of Jerusalem being destroyed just as Lehi prophesied.
Lay Up Treasures
In verse 25, Nephi talks of laying up treasures in heaven rather than on Earth. To me this means doing what is morally right on earth so that Heavenly Father will reward you with eternal life. Also, to me this means that all your possessions can be taken from you, but what you learn and your knowledge cannot be taken from you. This reminds me of the scripture in D&C 130:18-19 which states, “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.”
Chief Judge Murdered
Lastly, in this chapter, Nephi will prove to the people that he is truly is a prophet of God. He tells them that the chief judge was murdered by his brother and that they both belonged to the GR. In the next chapters, we will see that only a prophet could have told the people the things Nephi told them.